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SSD news - August 2011

will OCZ's new hybrid SSD be a market game changer?

Editor:- August 31, 2011 - OCZ today launched a hybrid PCIe SSD - the RevoDrive Hybrid - which integrates 100GB SSD capacity along with an onboard terabyte HDD and SSD ASAP / auto hot spot cache tuning controller capable of 910MB/s peak throughput and upto 120,000 random write IOPS (4K) - all for an MSRP under $500.

"The RevoDrive Hybrid leverages the best attributes of both solid state drives and traditional hard drive technology to deliver dynamic data-tiering on a single easy to deploy PCIe storage drive," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ.

Editor's comments:- although many oems have tried to make a success of all in one SSD-HDD hybrid drives - the hybrids which have come to market in the past 6 years have mostly been failures - as I predicted back in 2005 they would be.

That's because there's an infinite number of permutations which designers can choose to blend the mix of interface, SSD and HDD capacity and budget - whereas there is only a small and finite market in which any such combination of features will work and be competitive. Many past hybrids have also failed to ignite user buying chain reactions - because they were too slow - having been designed with interfaces which were too slow, controllers which didn't work, and not enough SSD capacity relative to the hard drive storage.

OCZ's new product therefore is coming into a market which has been littered with the bodies of past failures from other larger storage oems. What's different - and what could make a difference in this case - is that the ratio of SSD capacity to typical desktop RAM is a usable number (it's been much too low in all previous hybrids from hard disk makers) and the ratio of SSD to HDD looks right too. And the interface - PCIe means that the controller latencies won't get in the way between the host and the SSD - which has been a weakness in SATA based hybrids. Therefore it looks like a balanced design.

Is there a big enough market for this exact combination of features? OCZ with its track record of high performance consumer SSD sales is better placed to judge this than most SSD companies (and most analysts). If any hybrid SSD is going to provide the kind of user experience which leads users to spread the word and become part of the sales force - this one might well just be it.

SANRAD launches front loadable PCIe SSD accelerators

Editor:- August 31, 2011 - SANRAD today introduced front loadable PCIe flash SSD accelerators as options in its V-Switch storage appliances enabling upto 4TB of flash, together with 2x10GE networking and 2x8Gb FC, all in a single 1U rackmount appliance (or 10TB in 2U).

The unique front-panel installation allows for quick, easy maintenance and upgradeability in the data center. It enables a "pay as you grow" approach, allowing customers to add or replace PCIe flash modules without opening the appliance, similar to the way HDDs are added to a server.

Editor's comments:- one of the disadvantages of PCIe SSDs has been that due to the need to open a rack to replace modules - some users will regard the field replacement unit as being a whole rack - which pushes up the cost of maintenance and logistics.

SANRAD says their new system is the industry's 1st to provide pluggable PCIe SSD storage - and at a system level that may be true. But a year ago OCZ demonstrated a concept proof demonstrator- which it called HSDL - which used a SAS connector carrying a PCIe interface in a 3.5" SSD form factor - which a tentative step in this direction too.

ESG publishes test report on WhipTail's iSCSI SSD

Editor:- August 31, 2011 - Enterprise Strategy Group has published a test report on WhipTail Technologies' 2U iSCSI SSD appliance in a simulated 300 desktop VMware / W7 environment.

Applications ran glitch free - even when a flash drive was removed. ESG didn't have fast enough servers to stress test the performance - so they only verified 90% of the rated 250K IOPS.

fastest growing SSD topics this month

Editor:- August 30, 2011 - I've updated my list of the top 50 SSD articles read by's readers in August.

Some things don't change much - like the list of articles in the top 10.

But the fastest rising topics this month have been - auto tiering SSDs (up 34 places) and SSD reliability (up 18 places). Are these topics whose time has come?

Foremay ships SSDs to NASA

Editor:- August 30, 2011 - Foremay announced today that it has shipped SSDs from its SC199 Hi-Rel range for deployment in NASA's next generation space program, having completed evaluations for temperature cycling and cold starts in the industrial temperature range. See also:- past editor mentions of NASA on StorageSearch.

RunCore plans biggest SSD factory in China

Editor:- August 26, 2011 - RunCore today announced plams to build the biggest SSD factory in China to enable the company to cope with the increasing international demand for its products.

The new facory and test facility - based in Jinzhou Development Zone in Changsha city - is expected to be complete in early 2012.

How much capacity can you crunch with SolidFire?

Editor:- August 25, 2011 - SolidFire today announced the public availability of its eScanner estimation tool - which removes the guesswork and time it takes to evaluate a dataset for duplicate data, compressibility, and space savings ( claimed to be upto 70%) when using the company's iSCSI compatible SSD appliances.

"Talking with customers about SolidFire's efficiency savings, the question inevitably arises around how much duplicate, compressible, and thin provisioned data exists within their current infrastructure," said Jay Prassl, VP of sales and marketing at SolidFire. "When customers use eScanner, it provides them with efficiency data that is immediate and accurate. The more volumes scanned, the better the results, so we urge customers to run this tool as widely as possible."

Pure Storage has amassed $55 million for bulk FC SAN SSD storage

Editor:- August 24, 2011 - Pure Storage yesterday unveiled its first SSD product line and announced it had received $30 million in series C funding bringing its total capital funding up to $55 million.

Pure Storage 's FlashArray provides bulk / utility SSD storage for FC SAN enviroments - which by using inline dedupe and compression - can in some applications (25TB and 50K IOPS per U) offer lower cost and yet still deliver higher performance than classic hard drive disk arrays.

Editor's comments:- This looks like a spreadsheet based value proposition rather than a disruptive new product - and follows a market groove already established by WhipTail Technologies and Nimbus Data Systems. The market for this type of SSD market will be huge - but along the way to proving itself will have to fight off competition from auto-tieing SSDs and white box SSD RAID which will nibble away at the same customer SSD budgets.

In a video - Pure Storage 's CEO, Scott Dietzen introduces the company's value proposition of 10x faster speed than HDDs at lower cost - and says goodbye to the hard drive.

TMS launches 10TB 1U FC SAN SSD

Editor:- August 23, 2011 - Texas Memory Systems today launched its 1st eMLC SSD - the RamSan-810 - a 10TB FC SAN SSD in a 1U rackmount package - with 320K IOPS - rated for a 10-year life assuming 50TB writes/day.

TMS's CEO Holly Frost said, "Our entry into the eMLC market with the RamSan-810 is a natural evolution for us and an exciting and significant expansion of our business. Channel partners and users can now go with the undisputed leader in enterprise flash solutions for all their needs. The RamSan-810 scales (40x) to 400 Terabytes, 160 GB/s, and 12.8M IOPS within one 40U rack using only 10-KW. Imagine how efficiently your databases will run with this Flash storage configuration."

Editor's comments:- for TMS - I see this new capacity optimized enterprise SAN SSD product opening new value markets rather than displacing the IOPS optimized SLC and latency optimized RAM rackmounts already existing in their product range.

For the SSD market - it's another step on the road to the petabyte SSD. Currently it will take 2 and a bit cabinets to get there - but in another 4-5 years a bulk storage PB SSD may fit snugly into 1U.

the true cost of hard drive vulnerabilities

Editor:- August 23, 2011 - the problems caused by sand blowing into hard drives in the context of a desert war - is the subject of a recent blog by Mark Flournoy, VP of Government & Defense at STEC.

Among other things this article shows the consequences of data storage failures. It's the best blog I've seen so far on STEC's previously anemic SSD blog site. the article - I wish I had an SSD in Iraq. See also:- fast purge SSDs

learn about SSD technology - in a 2 day course

Editor:- August 23, 2011 - KnowledgeTek is running a series of 2 day courses on SSD technology (price $1,595) in September (/Longmont, CO) and November (/San Jose, CA).

Among other things - KnowledgeTek says you will learn - " SSDs work; how flash works; how flash is changing the storage industry; skepticism for claims of reliability, low-cost, and low-power; limitations for flash's future in SSDs; and what is poised to replace it."

Looking Ahead to the #1 Consumer Storage Conference

Editor:- August 17, 2011 - today announced that it is a media sponsor for the 11th annual Storage Visions® Conference - which takes place in January 2012 at Las Vegas, NV.

This event, once again organized by Tom Coughlin, President of Coughlin Associates will "... explore the convergent needs of digital storage to support cloud content distribution and sharing, user generated content capture and use and professional media and entertainment applications."

Editor's comments:- I've long held the view that the biggest and most significant markets for SSDs are the enterprise and embedded industrial markets. And in the past 4 years consumer SSD vendors have mostly underwhelmed consumers with badly designed and poorly integrated products.

But the consumer storage market is becoming more attractive for hard disk makers - because magnetic storage will continue being viable for many consumers applications long after they have ceased to be competitive in server markets.

Storage products which are competitive in consumer apps (such as dumb / medium smart flash storage, true SSDs, hybrids and HDDs) will have to grow wider apart in their characteristics compared to their counterparts in enterprise markets - because there's an economic cost to every feature which is put in and a market opportunity cost for every feature left out. That means oems have to work even harder to understand the special factors which make a successful consumer storage drive. Understanding those special nuances and anticipating future trends is more easily done when market stakeholders can discuss the market with their peers at strategic events like Storage Visions.

SSD protection technology wins best of show award for SMART

Editor:- August 15, 2011 - SMART today announced that its Guardian technology - which provides enterprise grade data integrity in MLC SSDs - has been chosen by the Flash Memory Summit as a Best of Show award winner for 2011 in the category of Most Innovative Flash Memory Enterprise Business Application.

SMART's SSD data protection portfolio includes among other things
  • MLC data management technologies which support more than 10 random writes / day for 5 years (similar to STEC)
  • UBER (uncorrectable bit error rate) rate of 10-17. (This is the same as SandForce - whose controllers are used in some SMART SSDs. The state of the art in 2.5" SSD UBER is Microsemi's TRRUST-STOR - 1 sector per 10-30 bits. Having said that - it's easier to achieve higher UBER in slower SSDs and those which use SLC.)
Editor's comments:- SMART recently launched a new range of 2.5" SAS SSDs which provide upto 1.6TB usable capacity, 100K/50K random IOPS and 500MB/s sustained R/W transfer rates - which incoporate the above technologies.

MarketingSage view of Flash SSD Market

Editor:- August 14, 2011 - a new blog by David Lamont of MarketingSage - A Strategic Marketing View of Flash Memory Products provides a summary of what he considers to be the important developments discussed at the recent Flash Memory Summit .

David's article also provides a high end business development view of the SSD market. Among other things David says - "...the sales cycles are long and purchase decisions involve many people so a sophisticated nurturing system and lots of sales tools are required." the article

SandForce announces new market milestones

Editor:- August 9, 2011 - SandForce today announced that it has shipped over 2 million SSD processors in the past 18 months - and the company this week also demonstrated its controller compatibility with 24nm MLC flash made by Toshiba.

another million IOPS SSD story

Editor:- August 8, 2011 - Texas Memory Systems announced that its PCIe SSD - the RamSan-70 can deliver 1 million random IOPS in a 512-byte, 100% read mode with one server.

This is a refinement of the earlier public statements regarding the product's performance envelope. Using the more common 4K sector size, the RamSan-70 performs 600K read IOPS. In write-intensive scenarios, the RamSan-70 will sustain 700MB/s and 175K IOPS (4KB).

Editor's comments:- the mushrooming of IOPS numbers quoted by SSD marketers was discussed in a blog last December by Woody Hutsell. More is better - but only if the way it's measured is similar to the pattern of data accesses in your most overloaded apps.

Fusion-io acquires SSD ASAP software company

Editor:- August 4, 2011 - Fusion-io announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire IO Turbine for approximately $95 million.

David Flynn, Chairman and CEO of Fusion-io. "We believe integrating ioMemory and IO Turbine adds a critical and previously missing performance component to virtualized IT environments that will accelerate the adoption of Fusion-io technology. This acquisition also underscores our focus on providing customers with an enterprise solution that features software and hardware components designed to accelerate their business' full suite of applications."

Fusion-io also reported revenue of $72 million for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2011, more than 6x as much as the year ago quarter in 2010 and up 7% from from the prior quarter.

Editor's comments:- these are the first financial results reported by Fusion-io since it became a publicly listed company. The results - and the company's decision to acquire an SSD ASAP software company together confirm and validate the company's strong showing in our predictive top 10 SSD companies list in recent years. The SSD market has become a serious business - and is no longer just about how cleverly a bunch of electronics guys can tame a bunch of unruly memory chips and make them play hard drive tricks.

STEC announces auto tiering SSD software

Editor:- August 4, 2011 - STEC today announced it is sampling a new software SSD ASAP product - called EnhanceIO - a cross-platform cache solution that works with any SSD to accelerate enterprise applications, however, it is optimized for STEC SSD devices.

Editor's comments:- this move was anticipated in my comments in April - when STEC acquired KQI. STEC has also started sampling its previously unveiled PCIe SSD family.

Samsung acquires more nv RAM IP

Editor:- August 3, 2011 - Samsung has acquired Grandis - an nv RAM company which has been developing spin transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM).

Hyperstone's new controller enables low power skinny SSDs

Editor:- August 3, 2011 - Hyperstone today introduced their new A2 family of SSD controllers - designed to enable physically small, very low power consumption industrial SATA skinny flash SSDs.

Features include:- upto 130MB/s sustained write performance and 600 4K random write IOPS, NCQ, power down detection for increased power cycling robustness, typical active current consumption at 25°C with 100% utilization during stress test operating 4 x 3.3V NAND Flashes of about 250mA, SATA partial/slumber (about 150mA) and CFast PHYSLP (about 5mA) power modes supported.

"Our A2 available in a 9x9x1.2mm TFBGA 201 is probably the smallest and most power efficient 4-channel SATA controller in the market," said Mark Gunyuzlu, President of Hyperstone Inc., USA. "We can now provide SATA performance, industrial reliability and ruggedness for smaller form factor systems without requiring any volatile memory prone to power fail issues. We also expect we are delivering the best possible random read/write performance without relying on a DRAM, which is ideal for embedded applications."

Editor's comments:- this is the other end of the performance scale from the fastest SSDs which enterprise users are used to reading about. Low power embedded systems can't afford the luxury of the low slew rate (fat caps) power supplies you see in datacenters. And many commercial SSDs can get trashed and corrupted in less than an hour if they're mistakenly deployed in such systems. Putting the power fail detection inside the SSD and having no external RAM is just one of many patented design techniques which specialist companies like Hyperstone use in their quest to provide failsafe protection against power line induced data corruption.

Nimbus SSDs dedupe eBay

Editor:- August 2, 2011 -Nimbus Data Systems announced that eBay has deployed more than 100 terabytes of Nimbus S-Class flash memory to power its VMware virtual server infrastructure.

The Nimbus solution delivered near line-rate 10 Gbps iSCSI performance to the VMware hosts while consuming 78% less energy and 50% less rackspace than conventional disk-based solutions.

Editor's comments:- eBay has been using SSDs to accelerate its infrastructure for over 10 years using systems from various suppliers. Click here to read about an earlier eBay SSD story from 2000.
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" We have to be ready and take advantage of this “quiet” period to learn and know more about SSD technology and what the experts are saying. I found a great website that introduces and speaks about SSD in depth. It is called StorageSearch and it is what I consider the best treasure trove on the web right now for SSD information. Go check it out."
SSDs coming into mainstream … be Ready - blog on (August 7, 2011 )

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Top 50 SSD articles - in August 2011

  1. SSD Myths - "write endurance" - StorageSearch started lobbying flash SSD makers to standardize on a way of specifying SSD endurance in 2006 - but vendors were reluctant to talk about this issue because they were worried that user fears about sudden SSD death would backfire on the industry - and they each had their own secret ways of managing flash endurance. Nowadays you can't stop SSD vendors talking about how clever they are at dealing with endurance. In theory the problems are now well understood - but solving them presents a challenge for each new chip generation - especially as MLC flash heads into 1X nanometers.
  2. the SSD Buyers Guide - summarizes key SSD market developments in the past 2-3 months and has a top level directory of SSD content listed by market, form factor, interface etc.
  3. the Top 20 SSD OEMs - updated quarterly - who are going to be the most successful SSD companies in the market? For over 4 years - this quarterly tracker has proved its power and accuracy as a sensitive way to pick up new companies and also as a way of predicting bumpy rides for those already in the market.
  4. SSD news - is our classic SSD news page (updated daily since 1998) which gives you a news view of the whole SSD market from chips to cabinets. It also includes a long list of key SSD oems extracted from the 300+ SSD makers profiled on this site.
  5. PCIe SSDs - lists oems who market PCIe SSDs, and news and market commentary. We've reported on PCIe SSDs since the first products shipped in 2007.
  6. the Fastest SSDs - updated daily - this article lists the fastest SSD in each popular form factor.
  7. SSDs replacing HDDs? - that's not exactly the way it happened - the SSD vs HDD wars have been discussed at this web address since 2005. In September 2011 - I wrote a new article to bring this theme up to date.
  8. HDD news - chronicles the last gasp years and historic anecodotes from the hard disk market - as it reluctantly retires in favor of SSDs.
  9. Flash v Hard Disks - Which Will Win? - this classic article published in June 2005 - introduced the concept of "flash SSD floor price" - which correctly predicted why some SSDs started to replace HDDs in many embedded applications - long before flash reached capacity price parity with magnetic media.
  10. RAM v Flash SSDs - which is Best? - I asked experts from 10 leading SSD companies to write their views about the strengths and weaknesses of these 2 types of SSD technologies. The article is updated from time to time - and you may be surprised to learn that in some heavy duty server apps RAM SSDs are cheaper to buy than flash - (as well as being faster).
  11. RAM SSDs - 20 or so companies still market RAM based SSDs. This directory page tells you who they are and explains why - as the market uses more flash SSDs - the need for RAM SSDs is growing (instead of shrinking).
  12. 2.5" SSDs - this is the most crowded part of the SSD market - as you'll see by the vendor listings. This directory page also includes extracts from 2.5" SSD news and a list of related articles.
  13. SSD market analysts - is a trusted primary resource in the SSD market - but the more you learn about this market - the more questions you realize remain unanswered (or unanswerable). I compiled this filtered list as a recommended resource for all those people who need custom reports and detailed market help - which go way beyond my limited "content prioritized" time budget or would involve too many conflicts of interest for me to take on.
  14. are MLC SSDs safe in Enterprise Apps? - this classic article discusses the important differences between MLC and SLC - and how these related to SSD data integrity. It's been updated many times - and includes new commentaries from enterprise SSD companies. A new thread in 2011 has been factional wars between different types of so called enterprise MLC SSDs.
  15. the SSD Reliability Papers - links and abstracts of articles related to the subject of SSD reliability and data integrity.
  16. Top 50 SSD articles on - this is the article you're seeing now.
  17. Fast Purge SSDs - is an article which includes a directory of vendors who design SSDs which can self destruct or quickly and securely erase flash SSD contents (typically in a fraction of a second) to prevent data getting into unwanted hands.
  18. auto tiering SSDs / SSD ASAPs - market guide to Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage.
  19. SSD market history (1976 to 2011) - I published the first edition of this history article in 2004 - and have been adding to it every month since. For people who are new to the market it provides a clue to how much things have changed - and how fast (or how slowly).
  20. SSD controllers & IP - this is a directory of merchant market SSD controller chip technology providers. There was a time when most SSD companies designed their own flash SSD controllers. But as the market races its way along to an SSD oem headcount which I expect will top 1.000 companies - the newer SSD makers don't have the inhouse talent to design world leading products for all the slots which their marketers would like to fill. And many older SSD companies have found they can't react fast enough to integrate new memory technologies into new SSDs. Enter the new market of SSD SoC makers.
  21. SAS SSDs - our market research uncovered a strong demand for SAS SSDs years before any such products actually existed. Vendors were slow coming into this market for a number of reasons. This article includes a timeline of the SAS SSD market - and lists significant vendors.
  22. 1.8" SSDs - who's who in the 1.8" market? - vendor directory, news and articles.
  23. 3.5" SSDs - this vendor directory gives you examples of popular 3.5" SSDs going back 10 years to the first such products in the market. Some of these had performance specs which sound impressive now! (As long as you don't mention the price.)
  24. SSD pricing explained - this article clarifies SSD pricing. Understanding what goes inside the SSD recipe helps you understand why some SSD menus cost a lot more than others.
  25. the 10 biggest storage companies in 2012? - in 2008 I explained why it would be impossible to continue my series (started in 2001) which accurately predicted 3-4 years ahead who would be the leading storage companies - because SSDs were becoming a significant and disruptive factor - and many of the world's biggest storage companies still hadn't entered the SSD market at that time.
  26. SSD jargon - because we've have been at the leading edge of reporting the SSD market - we've had to invent some of the jargon which is used to describe some SSD concepts. You can't have a meaningful discussion about the intricacies of SSD design without using these words. This article gives you simple explanations of these terms and tells you where they came from - and links you to more detailed info if needed.
  27. What's the best / cheapest - PC SSD? - I often get emails from readers who ask the above question.
  28. Surviving SSD sudden power loss - this article surveys SSD power down management across all the SSD architecture types in the market today. It explains why subtle design choices made to boost speed can have drastic conseqences in flexibility of system deployment. Power cycling induced faults kill more SSDs in real life than endurance ever did. But SSD PSU management topology is rarely mentioned in most SSD datasheets.
  29. SSD Data Recovery - this is the industry's first SSD recovery directory (a topic we started writing about in 2007). It includes articles and news related to recovering data from faulty or damaged SSDs.
  30. this way to the Petabyte SSD - in 2016 there will be just 3 types of SSD in the datacenter. One of them doesn't exist yet - the bulk storage archive SSD. This article describes the future storage architecture of the datacenter, explains the economics of SSDs replacing HDDs for bulk storage, predicts the characteristics of these future products and suggests a roadmap for getting there.
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